Three Characteristic Stances of the Mind of Reason

Sri Aurobindo continues his exploration of the human reason as a preliminary to the review of the issues surrounding the concept of rebirth. It is essential to understand the powers and limitations of the reason depending on the starting point of the individual exercising this power, so that we can understand the rationale that leads to reactions or responses and adjust for them. Sri Aurobindo describes the characteristic stance of the religious, philosophical and sceptical minds.

“…the religious mind accepts the theory or assumption…with faith, with a will of belief, with an emotional certainty, and finds its verification in an increasing spiritual intuition and experience.”

“The philosophic mind accepts it calmly and discerningly for its coherent agreement with the facts and necessities of being; it verifies by a pervading and unfailing harmony with all the demands of reason and intellectualised intuition.”

“But the sceptical mind–not the mind of mere doubt or dogmatic denial which usually arrogates that name, but the open and balanced mind of careful, impartial and reserved inquiry,–gives a certain provisional character to its hypotheses, and it verifies by the justification of whatever order or category of ascertainable facts it takes for its standard of proof and invests with a character of decisive authority or reality.”

Sri Aurobindo not only recognizes the validity in its own type of each of these three, but he points out that ideally we should be able to utilize all three in our review of facts and questions, in order to optimize the potential result. “For if the sceptical or provisional attitude makes us more ready to modify our image of Truth in the light of new material of thought and knowledge, the religious mind also, provided it keeps a certain firm and profound openness to new spiritual experience, can proceed faster to a larger and larger light, and meanwhile we can walk by it with an assured step and go securely about our principal business of the growth and perfection of our being. The philosophic mind has the use of giving a needed largeness and openness to our mentality,–if it too does not narrow itself by a close circle of metaphysical dogma,–and supports besides the harmony of our other action by the orderly assent of the higher reason.”

Sri Aurobindo,